Saint Oliver Plunkett (1629-1681)
for July 2
Saint Oliver Plunkett was born in Ireland in 1629 and educated for the priesthood in Rome. Ordained in 1654, Saint Oliver remained in Rome for a few years, working with the poor and teaching. He was then appointed as Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland. Anti-Catholic sentiment was particularly acute then, and the English were aggressively persecuting Catholics. Saint Oliver carried out his pastoral duties secretively and underground. Priests were being exiled, parochial schools shut down, and seminaries repressed. The English decided to hold Archbishop Oliver responsible for any rebellious activity carried out by the Irish. He was eventually arrested, charged with treason and, after what was by all accounts a sham trial, he was hanged, then drawn and quartered. He was the last Catholic martyr in England. He was canonized in 1975.
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Saint Oliver Plunkett was a courageous and holy martyr. As such, he is a saint and an exemplar of the Christian faith. Let us not forget, however, that martyrs and saints are no different from us. They are ordinary Christians, just like us, who choose to act in extraordinary ways. And we too, like them, are always one step away from the holiness and virtue required to be a saint.
Dear Jesus, help me to recognize that I too have the capacity to become a saint. Help me to become a saint.